<%-- Page Title--%> Health <%-- End Page Title--%>

<%-- Volume Number --%> Vol 1 Num 122 <%-- End Volume Number --%>

September 12, 2003

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Beating the Heat

Stroke and Heat Stroke: Big Difference

The symptoms of heat stroke -- dizziness, nausea, fatigue -- as well as the very name itself could lead you to believe the most extreme form of heat illness is a form of stroke.

However, that's not the case at all. Although both a neurological stroke and heat stroke can, if untreated, cause permanent damage and even be fatal, the two are unrelated.

Heat stroke is the most serious stage of heat illness, and occurs when excessive exposure to heat causes the body's sweating mechanism to fail. Without that mechanism, the body can no longer cool down, and body temperature can soar to 106 degrees or higher.

With heat stroke, a person will show no signs of sweating, have a rapid pulse, and red, hot, dry skin. Dizziness, nausea and a severe headache may be experienced. Medical assistance should be sought immediately and the person should be cooled down with such items as wet towels or sponges.

Sweltering heat and high humidity can pose health problems, especially among older people and young children. There are some helpful tips:

- Stay out of direct sunlight.
- Keep outdoor activities to a minimum, especially between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
- Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothes made from fabric that absorbs perspiration.
- Drink lots of fluids.
- Take lukewarm baths.
- Recognise early signs of heat exhaustion or heat stroke. They include headache, feelings of weakness and dizziness -- usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting.

Help for Heat Cramps

Have you ever had a muscle in your arm or leg go into spasm in the middle of an exercise routine or during another kind of strenuous activity?

That means you've experienced heat cramps, which are painful and involuntary spasms caused by low salt levels in your muscles.

So if you perspire heavily, you're probably more prone to the problem because sweating drains your body's salt and moisture. That's why sodium-laden sports drinks are so popular with athletes -- they replenish the body's supplies.

Actually, even if you aren't a big sweater, a lack of fluid can cause your muscles to seize up. In this case, heat cramps may be a symptom of heat exhaustion.

The spasms usually affect muscles in your calves, arms, abdomen and back, although they can occur when you're exerting any muscle group.

Few More advice:
- Quit exercising, and rest quietly in a cool place.
- Drink clear juice or a sports beverage.
- Don't resume any strenuous activity for a few hours after the heat cramps subside. Further exertion may lead to heat exhaustion or heat stroke.
- If the cramps don't pass after an hour, get medical help.

For people with heart problems or on low-sodium diets, you should seek medical attention for heat cramps.



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